Craaaack! The sound is so sharp from above, it immediately draws my attention from the task at hand. As I glance up, I see the large branch of the Ponderosa Pine tumble down from 40 feet above, smashing to the ground. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as everywhere I look, trees are broken off or doubled over from the weight of our 3-foot snowstorm.
Our early evening snowshoe is motivated by the fact that it is one of the few times the Summer Road is entirely closed to vehicle traffic. Though you would think from its name, that it is not used during snowstorms, that is not necessarily the case. Because it saves significant time driving to Boulder, local residents take their chances navigating it even when they probably shouldn’t. The consequences can be dire — cars hitting trees and stuck in ditches are not uncommon sights.
But we’ve received an email from our HOA, which maintains the road, saying the road is closed indefinitely due to downed trees. With curiosity getting the best of us, we strap on our snowshoes, grab our trekking poles and set off for an late afternoon snowshoe hike.
The aspen trees are overwhelmed by this late season snowstorm. Having already leafed out, they are bent over in odd shapes everywhere I look — one of them forming an archway across the road. Others are not so lucky as we soon find out, encountering an entire tangled mass of Aspens that have fallen across the road. The tangle of tree has completely obstructed the road, and we only make it through them by ducking through the web of limbs.
The trek through the deep snow included other surprises — including a moose sighting lumbering up the hillside above us. Passing a fresh pile of moose scat, we realize just how close we came to encountering the moose. A friend of mine sent a video to me of a moose running at full speed through deep snow towards some cross-country skiers. I try not to think of this as I spy the scat — but consider what my escape plan will be if this moose makes a run towards me on the Summer Road.
The trek down is difficult as we are breaking trail through 2-3 feet of new fallen snow. Thankfully, Bryon has taken the lead, being a stronger hiker, with larger snowshoes helps me pick my way after him. We make it to the bottom, just in time to see the Nederland bus pass by on its way up the icy, slushy canyon road.
Knowing this is an unusual storm, I ask Bryon to snap a picture of me standing knee deep in the snow next to the Summer Road warning sign. Now it’s time to climb the 550 feet back up, which I’m not feeling so confident about. To make matters worse, Bryon suggests I go first. Thankfully, we’ve broken trail the whole way, so it’s a bit easier. I still find myself taking small steps, 3-4 at a time, then pausing before resuming my uphill climb.
Trekking poles are indispensable as they prevent from completely losing my balance and toppling over. As we round the the second switchback, the whirring of wings catches my eye. A hummingbird is zipping around amongst the snow laden trees. I can only imagine what is going through his mind! I flew all the way from Mexico back to Colorado for this! Where’s my flowers and nectar — what the heck is going on?
Finally after about 40 minutes of trudging, we top out at the gate marking the closure. Droplets of sweat dot my brow, as I heave a sigh of relief having made it through the snow. Back to our house, I can’t help but admire the beauty of the immense amount of snow that has fall during the last 24 hours — only in Colorado!